I think that Leadership and Pastoral Leadership conferences have jumped the shark. They are sooooo 2006 and they quit being innovative a long long long time ago. I knew things were getting desperate in the world of leadership conferences when Rick Warren slapped a new label on his same old tired Purpose-Driven leadership materials and renamed it Radicalis. Did he think that no one would notice that its the exact same curriculum he's been pushing for 25 years?
Yawn. Boring. Stale. Been there done that. I even have a t-shirt to prove it.
I can think of hundreds of other things I rather be doing than attend an outdated rehash of leadership leftovers in yet another multi-day so called 'transformational' leadership experience.
And has anyone noticed that it is the exact same people who keep getting invited to speak at these events? Seriously, how many times do I need to hear Perry Noble complain about the mean bloggers who aren't 'man enough' to come out from behind their laptops? Even the young avant garde emergent types are getting old and fat and their kewl trendy jeans, shirts and glasses are looking as relevant as a re-run of Love American Style.
Yawn. Boring. Stale. Been there done that.I even have a t-shirt to prove it.
Seriously, the pantheon of so-called innovative church leadership demi-gods sure seems to be seriously lacking innovation lately. Apparently the well spring in their "valley of vision" has run dry and there's nothing really new under the leadership sun. So they have nothing better to do than invite the same speakers to say the same things in the same auditoriums singing the same songs delivering the same leadership pep talks. Even Perry Noble wore the exact same clothes two years in a row at the conference that his church hosts (No kidding! Here's Perry at the 2009 Unleash Conference. Here's Perry at the 2010 Unleash Conference.)
Yawn. Boring. Stale. Been there done that. I even have a t-shirt to prove it.
Some have tried to keep the leadership industry alive by creating a new Christian Leadership Code Language that we're supposed to read their books in order to decipher and apply to ministry. They throw around words like missional, intentional, incarnational, experiential and relational as if these words actually mean anything real. But these words are now as cutting edge and edgy as venti, grande, macchiato and frappuccino. I think those terms are yawn-al, boring-al, stale-al. I even have a t-shirt to prove it.
R.I.P. Leadership Conferences. You taught us that if you live by relevance you also die by relevance. You were kewl for a season. But I'm bored with you now.
Been there done that. I even have a t-shirt to prove it.
By today’s new ‘Church Leadership’ standards Jesus was a clueless leader who obviously wasn't in tune with the 'worship experience' needs of His time and culture. Fact is, when you read the New Testament biographies you don’t read about Jesus discussing the latest leadership philosophies, church branding strategies, church marketing practices or the latest ideas for designing and creating holistic audio visual environments to help create the perfect mood for people to have an engaging worship experience.
Instead, when you read the New Testament you discover that Jesus often taught outside and Jesus’ teaching events were far from seeker-sensitive. When you compare Jesus' leadership practices to the new and improved leadership principles of Rick Warren, Bill Hybels, Leadership Network and others you'd have to conclude that Jesus was a complete failure as a leader and was in the dark when it came to meeting the felt needs of His target market.
A prime example of Jesus' utter cluelessness is found in the Gospel of Mark chapter 8. In the opening verses of that chapter we learn that Jesus held, for lack of a better term, a three day long “outdoor church conference” where He was the featured speaker. Here’s what Mark records about the event.
“In those days, when again a great crowd had gathered, and they had nothing to eat, he called his disciples to him and said to them, “I have compassion on the crowd, because they have been with me now three days and have nothing to eat. And if I send them away hungry to their homes, they will faint on the way. And some of them have come from far away.” (Mark 8:1–3)
Yes, you read that correctly! Those who attended Jesus' three day long ‘outdoor church conference’ were outside, exposed to the sun, the wind and the elements. Oh and there was no food provided until the END of the event. What was Jesus thinking?!
Can you imagine the comments that Jesus and His disciples received in the customer satisfaction response surveys after the event? I’m sure they got responses like the ones listed below.
Question: Were you satisfied with the location for this conference?
Answer: Are you kidding me?! The Judean countryside is no place to hold a three day long church conference. Not only did I get a sunburn and a windburn, but the stench from 5,000 sweaty men being baked alive for three days totally ruined my ‘worship experience’.
Question: What did you think of Jesus' teaching?
Answer: First of all it’s difficult to listen to a man drone on and on and on for THREE DAYS without anything in your stomach. Why didn’t Jesus just keep His teaching down to 30 to 45 minutes? Seriously, how does Jesus expect us to remember all of that stuff? Laptops, the internet and Twitter haven’t even been invented yet and most of us are poor uneducated people and don’t have the resources to even take notes. It would have been way better if Jesus had passed around some handouts with fill in the blank sentences so that we could at least have some way of applying His relevant points to our lives and experience some ‘life change’. This was no way to motivate people to become world changers.
Question: What did you think of the food?
Answer: We were baking and starving in the sun for three days before the the first and only meal was served. Jesus waited until we were all ready to pass out from hunger and exposure before He decided to throw us a bone and miraculously divide up some bread and some fishes. Why did Jesus wait until the end of the conference to feed us? Why didn’t Jesus do that neat little miracle two or three times a day during the conference so that we didn’t have to listen to him on an empty stomach?
Question: What were your overall impressions of the conference and what would you like to see done differently at our future conferences?
Answer: Aside from the fact that I was hot, got sunburned, windburned, had to endure the smell of 5,000 sweaty Judean peasants while listening to a Bible teacher drone on for THREE DAYS without the ability to take notes or follow along on Powerpoint, with no porta potties and no food in an environment that is nearly impossible to have a descent worship experience...I thought the conference was a raging success (that was sarcasm). I’d rather be boiled in oil by the Romans than attend another outdoor teaching conference hosted by Jesus.
By the way today’s Church Leadership Gurus talk you’d think that the New Testament was just brimming with Leadership wisdom ready to be picked and applied by today’s innovative visionary leaders. Yet, when I read the Gospel accounts, the leadership that Jesus modeled doesn’t even remotely look like the ‘new leadership’ that today’s gurus are selling. The reason for these differences is that Jesus' Leadership Model NEVER had anything to do with customer satisfaction or positive customer experiences.
I know that I am running the risk of being branded as a "Leadership Heretic" but I think that there was obviously something FAR MORE IMPORTANT happening at Jesus' three day long 'outdoor church conference' than religious consumers having their felt needs met or customers having a 'life changing experience'. The key to understanding what that "more important thing" was can be found in Matthew 4:4 which states:
“‘Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’””
Many Christians have an incorrect view about what the Purpose-Driven Network, the Willowcreek Association and Leadership Network are. Many mistakenly believe these organizations are churches, or some form of a quasi-denomination. They’re not. These organizations are businesses and these businesses offer knowledge based products to the church leader / pastor market.
The reason I am circling back to clarify these points is that yesterday I called on Peter Drucker's disciples, Rick Warren, Bob Buford and Bill Hybels to issue a safety recall for their entire Emerging Church product line. This type of language seemed odd and out of place to a few people since speaking of Leadership Network, the Purpose-Driven Network and the Willowcreek Association as businesses contradicted what many people assumed about them. Part of the reason for this confusion is that two of these organizations are headed up by men who also happen to be pastors.
Therefore, what I want to do in this post is explain the real nature of these companies so that you can properly understand what these organizations are doing and can properly and realistically scrutinize their offerings in a correct and Biblical way. But, this means that I will need to make some statements that may challenge your assumptions about these companies.
In order to accomplish this task I will put forward a series of ‘theses’ that will help paint a realistic picture of these organizations and their leaders. As basic as these 'theses' may appear, many people have not taken the time to think through them and their implications.
Rick Warren is the head pastor of Saddleback Church.
Rick Warren is also the functioning CEO of the Purpose-Driven Network.
Saddleback Church and the Purpose-Driven Network are two distinct entities.
When Rick Warren is preaching at Saddleback he is functioning in a Pastoral Office.
When Rick Warren is making decisions about the direction of the Purpose-Driven Network he is functioning in a Chief Executive Office.
Therefore, the Purpose-Driven Network is a business entity that is separate and distinct from Saddleback Church but it happens to be run by a man who is both a CEO and a Pastor.
Bill Hybels is the head pastor of Willowcreek Church.
Bill Hybels is also the functioning CEO of the Willowcreek Association.
Willowcreek Church and the Willowcreek Association are two distinct entities.
When Bill Hybels is preaching at Willowcreek Church he is functioning in a Pastoral Office.
When Bill Hybels is making decisions about the direction of the Willowcreek Association he is functioning in a Chief Executive Office.
Therefore, the Willowcreek Association is a business entity that is separate and distinct from Willowcreek Church but it happens to be run by a man who is both a CEO and a Pastor.
The Purpose-Driven Network’s target market is church leaders / pastors.
The Willowcreek Association’s target market is church leaders / pastors.
Leadership Network’s target market is church leaders / pastors.
The Purpose-Driven Network develops and sells knowledge based products to its target market.
The Willowcreek Association develops and sells knowledge based products to its target market.
Leadership Network develops and sells knowledge based products to its target market.
Knowledge based products are concepts, ideas, models, methods and practices.
Although knowledge based products are not tangible products like iPods and cell phones they are products none the less.
Knowledge based products are delivered via books, DVDs, lectures, conference keynote addresses, articles and one on one coaching.
Knowledge based products must be developed just like tangible products must be developed.
When the Purpose-Driven Network (PDN) holds a conference at Saddleback Church, it is not a church function it is a business conference where PDN’s knowledge based products are delivered to church leaders for a price.
The business conference also happens to be hosted by the church that Rick Warren pastors.
When the Willowcreek Association (WA) holds a conference at Willowcreek Church, it is not a church function it is a business conference where WA’s knowledge based products are delivered to church leaders for a price.
The business conference also happens to be hosted by the church that Bill Hybels pastors.
When the Leadership Network (LN) holds a conference at a church, it is not a church function it is a business conference where LN’s knowledge based products are delivered to church leaders for a price.
LN, PDN and WA although they are separate companies offer very similar knowledge based products and services to the church leader / pastor market.
LN, PDN and WA all sell knowledge based products and services that are based upon and firmly rooted in the leadership, management concepts and theories of the late business guru Peter Drucker.
Just like McDonalds, Burger King and Wendys all sell hamburgers... LN, PDN and WA all sell Peter Drucker’s business and management ideas.
Drucker’s leadership theories form the common ground for all of the knowledge based products that LN, PDN and WA sell to the church leader / pastor market.
With these theses in mind, there are several other things that you must also keep in mind regarding my call for the Druckerites to issue a safety recall for their entire Emerging Church product line.
I am calling on Rick Warren the CEO of the Purpose-Driven Network to take responsibility for the defective knowledge product known as the Emerging Church that PDN helped develop and bring to market.
I am calling on Bill Hybels the CEO of the Willowcreek Association to take responsibility for the defective knowledge product known as the Emerging Church that WA helped develop and bring to market.
I am calling on Bob Buford the CEO of the Leadership Network to take responsibility for the defective knowledge product known as the Emerging Church that LN helped develop and bring to market.
All three of these Druckerite CEO’s bear some responsibility because of their roles in helping to develop and release the knowledge based product known as the Emerging Church. The reason they are responsible is because none of these businesses have put quality control measures or systems in place in order to insure that the knowledge based products that they bring to market and sell to church leaders / pastors are not infected with false doctrine and heresy.
If Pastor Warren and Pastor Hybels want to continue moonlighting as CEO’s then they must take responsibility for the doctrinal safety of the knowledge based products that their businesses are developing and selling to church leaders / pastors.
Rick Warren, one of the innovators responsible for foisting the “Seeker-Sensitive Model of Church” upon the Body of Christ justifies his radical innovations by alluding to Christ’s statement to Peter that He’d make Peter a “fisher of men”. Evangelism, according to Jesus is akin to fishing. Rick Warren picks up on Jesus’ fishing theme and says:
“If you’re going to be good at fishing, you’ve got to learn to think like a fish. If you’re going to be an effective fisher of men, you’ve got to think like a lost person. Here’s the problem. Unfortunately, the longer you are a Christian, the less you think like an unbeliever. I don’t think like a non-Christian; I think like a Christian. In fact, I think like a pastor. That’s even worse! It’s two generations removed from the people I want to reach.
You can tell just how differently pastors think than lost people when you look at church advertisements in the newspaper. You’ll see advertisements like, “Preaching the inspired, inerrant Word of God.” Who will that appeal to? I know what the inspired, inerrant Word of God is. In fact I believe in it. I’d die for the inspired, inerrant Word. But non-Christians don’t care about your view of inspiration.
Or you’ll see a church advertise “Holy Spirit services.” That’s going to scare people away! Non-Christians don’t know what you mean by the Holy Spirit. Is that Casper the Friendly Ghost? You must learn to think – and communicate – like a non-believer if you are going to communicate the Gospel to them.
To catch fish, you’ve got to know their habits, their preferences, and their feeding patterns. Certain fish like smooth water. Others are bottom crawlers. Some like rushing water. Others hide under rocks. You’ve got to know what the fish you’re trying to reach like to do. If you’re going to understand and reach non-Christians, you’ve got to begin with their mindset. (Online Source)
What if Rick Warren’s fundamental premise about evangelism / fishing is dead wrong? What if Rick Warren has mixed his metaphors and has drawn incorrect conclusions about what it means to be a “fisher of men”? What if the fishing Jesus was referring to was not bait fishing but NET FISHING would that cause you to rethink the Seeker-Sensitive movement and question whether its methodologies are faithful to Jesus’ Biblical methods of evangelism? It should.
Bait Fishing is to Net Fishing as Deception is to Integrity
The Purpose-Driven / Seeker Sensitive model of evangelism attempts to attract so-called ‘seekers’ (Rom. 3:11) to attend a church service by radically changing the nature of church. Gone are hymns, and Biblical expository sermons. These have been replaced with culturally appealing rocks shows and practical self-help, felt-needs, life improvement seminars that contain a few ripped out of context verses thrown in to create the illusion that they’re based on the Bible. The model of fishing that Rick Warren is teaching his fleet of ‘fishers of men’ to employ is Bait Fishing. It is important to understand that the primary strategy of bait fishing is deception. Bait fishing deceives unsuspecting fish into believing that they are about to enjoy in their favorite meal but instead they find themselves being killed by a well hidden hook.
Deception is precisely the method employed by Purpose-Driven / Seeker Sensitive ‘evangelists’. They’ve discovered that they can convince unbelievers to come to their churches IF they deceive them by hiding the ‘church hook’ in culturally relevant self-help stage shows. These churches are experts at marketing. They purchase newspaper advertising and send out thousands of mailers promising to give non-Christians the secrets to achieving ‘Red Hot Sex’, financial freedom, and a less-stressful life. But, Biblical Christianity does NOT offer or promise ANY of those things. The truth is that many marriages have been destroyed because one partner has converted to Christianity while the other persisted in their unbelief (Matt. 10:36). Many Christians around the world and in the U.S. struggle to pay their bills while other believers cannot even afford the basic necessities of life. Faith in Jesus does not include a guarantee of wealth or freedom from debt. In fact, financial status has never been a indicator of one’s standing before the Lord (Eph. 6:5, Col. 3:22) God warns us of the dangers of wealth and the love of money (1Tim. 6:10). Furthermore, the Bible does not offer Christians a less stressful life. Around the world Christians are persecuted and martyred for their faith. Rather than offering stress relief, confessing Jesus Christ in many portions of the world is a guarantee for experiencing life threatening danger and the stresses that go with knowing that you have been marked for death (2 Cor. 11:24-28). At its core Purpose-Driven / Seeker-Sensitive “evangelism” engages in lies and deception (bait fishing). That alone should disqualify it from being eployed in ANY church. So what was Jesus talking about when He told the disciples that He would make them ‘fishers of men’?
The fishing that Jesus calls His church to engage in is the same type of fishing that the humble men of Galilee were familiar with. This type of fishing requires them to leave the safety of the shore and head out to the deep water, where the fish are. Once there, they cast their nets into the sea and drag the fish into their boats. There is no disguising a net. There is no deception involved in net fishing. There’s no need to “think like a fish” or to understand what their favorite food is to lure them in. Instead, a fish that is caught via net fishing, one minute is swimming along with its school minding its own business the next minute it is being dragged against its will into a boat.
Isn’t this exactly what Jesus said in John 6:44?
“No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day.”
The greek word for "draw" is the word helkuo. Here is how BDAG defines this word:
“to move an object from one area to another in a pulling motion, draw, with implication that the object being moved is incapable of propelling itself or in the case of persons is unwilling to do so voluntarily, in either case with implication of exertion on the part of the mover”
Net fishing drags unwilling fish into a boat. Evangelism that utilizes Net Fishing does the exact same thing. The net that the church has been called utitlize is the gospel. The focal message that we are to use for our nets, according to Jesus, is the message of ‘repentance and the forgiveness of sins’ (Luke 24:46-48). If our nets are to be effective at dragging in fish we must preach both repentance (the law) and the forgiveness of sins (the gospel). To omit either of these key points is the equivalent of using a compromised net that is full of gaping holes. Holes make a net useless.
The evangelism / fishing that our Lord calls His church to engage in is Net Fishing. He doesn’t ask us to engage in deception nor would He ever. Instead, he calls us to maintain the integrity of our nets by maintaining the integrity of His Word. We are then to take the nets out into the deep waters of our world and culture and cast them out. God will provide the fish. He will send them into the net. When He does, we are to drag them into the boat. There is no need to change the church and deceptively make it more attractive to unbelievers. Instead, when God sends the fish to our nets we are supposed to drag them in and feed them with the living word of God and the nourishment found in spiritual songs that exalt Jesus Christ, sound doctrine and the proclamation of Jesus' and the salvation He won for us on Calvary's cross.
Net fishing is the ONLY type of fishing that Christians are called to engage in. To be an effective Net Fisher one must always maintain the integrity of the net. Bait Fishing on the other hand, depends on lies and deception. Bait Fishing is the Devil’s method of fishing because Satan is, “a liar and the father of lies.”
What type of fishing does your church's evangelism efforts utilize, Nets or Deception?
Here’s a segment from my radio program that takes a look at this topic from the scriptures. It reviews a sermon by Pastor Ernie Lassman on Luke 5:1-11.
Click on the Menu button on the player above and you can embed this radio segment on your blog or website.
I am always struct by how absolutely naive some people are about church growth. They point to the fact that their church has grown X percent over X amount of time as if that "PROVES" that God is blessing their ministry and that those who would dare criticize the false doctrine and Bible twisting that is coming from their pulpits are just not seeing the bigger picture.
One of the dumbest examples I've seen of this is Steven Furtick's defense of Joel Osteen. According to Furtick, guys like me and folks who understand systematic theology and the Biblical languages need to shut our mouths and stop criticizing Joel Osteen because Osteen 'packs the freaking Compaq Center 2 times every freaking Sunday'. (that's a direct quote from Furtick)
What Biblically challenged egomaniacs like Furtick need to deal with is that not all growth is good growth. In fact, if your church congregation has a weakened or non-existent immune system and isn't defending against false doctrine then the growth that it is experiencing is more than likely CANCEROUS GROWTH.
The Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) is an absolutely terrifying pathogen. It’s almost as if this virus studied the human body and its defenses in order to find the achilles heel. And it succeeded. HIV the virus that causes AIDS doesn’t attack the human body like other diseases, it destroys the human immune system so that its victims cannot ward of the most common diseases. Those who die of AIDS don’t die from the HIV virus. Instead, the HIV virus destroys the human body’s natural defenses and then lets other diseases like the common cold, or the flu finish off its victims. It’s a manically ingenious pathogen.
The great adversary of Our Lord Jesus Christ and His church has learned the lessons of HIV and has crafted an almost identical attack against the Body of Christ. Since, I am one of the early discovers of this pathogen mimicking Satanic attack I have named it the “Ecclesia Immunodeficiency Heresy” (EIH).
EIH like the HIV virus works by attacking the immune system of the Body of Christ. Once that immune system is effectively destroyed or rendered powerless then Satan destroys the host congregation by introducing ancient heresies and false doctrines. With no effective immune system in place to put down these heresies and false gospels, the host congregation comes under the control of the Devil. In the final stages of this disease, the host congregation becomes the breeding ground for Satanic missionaries who are carriers of EIH. These EIH missionaries are then sent out to other congregations in order to spread this disease around the world and thereby silence sound doctrine and the proclamation of the true good news of salvation by grace alone through faith alone by Christ's work alone.
Does your congregation test positive for EIH? Here are some tale-tell symptoms of EIH.
The pastor has gone from preaching expository Bible sermons to giving relevant self-help informational lectures that meet the felt needs of unbelievers.
You frequently hear the pastor or staff say things like “We do church for the unchurched”
In depth Bible study and preaching are publicly mocked, ridiculed or attacked by the pastor and staff.
Home Group Bible study leaders are unqualified to teach the Bible and end up resorting to asking subjective questions like “what does this passage mean to you”?
Home Group Bible study leaders are instructed to value everyone’s ideas about the Bible and that no ideas are to be condemned or spoken of as if they are false or contrary to scripture.
If you raise doctrinal concerns about what is being taught in the pulpit or in a Home Group Study you are branded a “pharisee” and escorted off the Church’s property by security.
The only people disciplined in the congregation are those who do not give unquestioning allegiance to the pastor’s vision for the church.
When you ask about doctrine the pastor says, “We’re into deeds not creeds.”
If your church has one or more of these symptoms then it has tested positive for EIH.
Please, keep in mind that those pastors and teachers who are carriers of EIH may not personally be promoting or believing any heresies. Instead, they are promoting new 'innovative' methodologies and church structures that eliminate and/or effectively neutralize the Body of Christ's immune system. The heresies that will kill the congregation will be introduced after the immune system has been neutralized. EIH's primary mission is to render the Body of Christ defenseless against the coming heretical attacks.
Pirate Christian Radio is holding a contest. They will be giving away a copy of the book "Christless Christianity" to the first seeker-driven "pastor" who delivers a "sermon" or "bible study" based on the new Star Trek movie. PCR is also offering bonus points to any lead pastor that preaches a Star Trek sermon on Mother's Day. Click Here for Details.